The aim of the Foresight, Environment and Development Program is to prepare foresight-focused professionals for careers in environmental and developmental policy and practice. The duration of the program is two years. Students will be awarded the title of “Magister” (abbreviated as “Mgr.”) which is the equivalent to a Master of Science (M.Sc.). The Foresight, Environment and Development Program is the first of its kind in the Czech Republic and in the region of Central and Eastern Europe.
Foresight is the ability to describe what may happen or may be needed in the future while considering the future as something that we can create or shape. Foresight assumes that the future is not pre-determined, but that it can evolve in different directions. Foresight includes thinking about the future, debating the future and shaping the future in addition to using participatory and multidisciplinary approaches.
Development is a branch of social science that addresses issues in development policy and practices. Environment is an academic field that systematically studies human interaction with the natural world, particularly the factors that have an influence on human wellbeing and sustainable development.
Upon the successful completion of the program, individuals will be equipped to work in the public sector as well as in private industry both at the national and international levels. Graduate students have the opportunity to be employed in governmental or non-governmental institutions which collaborate on development- or environment-related projects, especially at the positions where planning and future trends analysis is required. In addition, graduates can find careers in the private sector, especially in high-tech companies which monitor and formulate future trends in their industry.
Students are obliged to take courses in the following structure:
Compulsory courses (students take all 10 courses)
Introduction to Foresight
Introduction to Foresight is an introductory course for students of Foresight for Environment and Development program. Students will learn about the history of possible futures and foresight, the most important persons of this field of study as well as internationally recognized institutions focusing on foresight. The opportunities and limits of foresight studies will be discussed in comparison with the study of history (while we can fully interpret the history without having an opportunity to influence it, we cannot fully learn about the future but we have options and opportunities to influence it). Basic concepts and terms will be introduced (framing, scanning, forecasting, visioning, planning and acting).
Past Futures - Future Pasts
Our future is not created from nothing; it is rather deeply rooted in our past. Seminar is focused on future pasts and past futures from different points of view applied by historicists, philosophers, economists or political scientists. Discussion will be based on relevant theories and texts published since 1800 by top philosophers such as Karl Marx, Immanuel Wallerstein, Samuel Huntington, Francis Fukuyama, Fareed Zakaria, Zygmunt Baumann and many others.
Possible Futures Mapping
Mapping possible futures involves three areas: research that maps the past developments and the context of the topic being forecasted, scanning of the signs of change already happening and forecasting covering the creation of projections to describe the anticipated shape of change.
For the research, various qualitative and quantitative research methods are applied, including typical forecasting methods, such as Delphi. Scanning uncovers signals of upcoming change which may be weak at this point. The outputs often involve so called wild cards. Forecasting then describes the upcoming changes and maps the options for influencing these changes, creating so called future forecasts or scenarios of future change.
Global Demographic Trends
The aim of the course is to understand demographic context of geographic phenomena and processes and to get an overview of the state and population development in the Czech Republic and abroad. Students will learn the methods of obtaining, processing and evaluating demographic data. Attention will also be given to population development forecasts in the world, with a special focus on developing countries.
Development Geography and Globalization
The main aim of the course is to introduce students to the geographical concepts of development and impacts of globalization in the less developed countries.
Development Geography and Globalisation is a comprehensive introductory course for student in the interdisciplinary field of development studies. The course analyses main economic, social and political trends and aspects of development processes in the South. First part of the course is focused on the role and legacy of colonialism (including geographic imaginations that inform development thinking) and geographical impact of globalization. In second part emphasis is given on selected components of development (e.g. population and poverty, resources, institutions of development) and spaces of development (movements and flows, urban and rural spaces).
Selected Prognostic Methods
Students will get to know selected prognostic methods and the options how to use them in practice. The selected methods are Environmental Scanning, The Delphi Method, Real-Time Delphi, Trend Impact Analysis, The Futures Wheel, Wild Cards, Morphological Analysis, Relevance Trees, Scenarios, Participatory Methods, Simulation and Games, Genius Forecasting, Intuition, Vision, and State of the Future Index.
Possible Futures Shaping
Influencing possible futures involves three areas: leadership, visioning and planning of the possible futures. The aim is to help create better futures, at the level of community, organization, company, town etc. The main tool is formulation of visions which represent the preferred future. Foresight is precursor for strategic planning; hence it is the last step in the process of planning and influencing of visions and plans through leadership.
Principles of System and Ecosystem Thinking
The course is dedicated to the main principles of system thinking, which is the cornerstone paradigm of foresight studies. System itself is more than the sum of its integral parts. Mutual links and interactions are of high importance. Therefore system behavior often shows unexpected results. Thus, future predictions are not straightforward, and in complex systems almost impossible. Special focus will be dedicated to the system thinking in environment and behavior of ecosystems at various levels. Students will get familiar with the basics of simulation modelling and with the theory of complex adaptive systems.
Social and Technological Changes and its Environmental Effects
Students will get acquainted with basic dimensions of change (foresight is the study of future change): sources and degree of change (from where), time extent of changes (how long), speed of changes (how fast) and forms of change (types of trends: linear, exponential or cyclical). Discontinuous changes and theories of discontinuous equilibriums will be discussed. Moreover, students will study ten theories of social change: progress theory, development theory, technology theory, culture theory, cycle theory, conflict theory, market theory, power theory, evolution theory and emergence theory. The end of the course will be dedicated to change management, especially through vision formulation and its enforcement.
The main aim of the course is to provide the understanding of the ways environment and society are related and interconnected in the less developed countries. The course Environmental geography is focused on the understanding of interactions between humans and the natural world in the less developed countries, combining parts of human geography and physical geography. The course will provide understandings of the ways environment and society are related and affect each other. The course address various topics, such environmentalism and sustainable development; drylands and desertification; tropical deforestation; biodiversity conservation, sustainability and development; sustainability and river control; industrial and human hazards; environmental conflicts; food and agriculture in the globalizing world.
Methodological courses (students take at least 1 course)
Quantitative Methods in Development
The aim of the course is to introduce the use of quantitative tools for the analysis of development issues for students in the field of development studies.
This course will focus on the use of quantitative tools for the analysis of development issues for graduate students in the field of development studies. The course will help students develop technical skills for undertaking their own analytical and quantitative research activities. Students will learn to use statistical software to be able to work with various datasets to analyze key development issues.
Qualitative Methods in Development
The aim of the course is to introduce students to basic qualitative research methods.
The course is an introduction to qualitative methods for students of International Development Studies. It provides students with basic theoretical framework for qualitative research, introduces main data collection methods, coding, analysis and interpretation. The aim of the course is to provide students with essential theoretical knowledge necessary for conducting development research and enable them to continue on postgraduate level. Part of the course is also devoted to current software tools used for qualitative research.
Optional Courses (students take 4 to 7 courses)
GIS in Environmental Research and Development
The aim of the subject is to familiarise students with Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and its applications in environmental research and development studies. Students will tackle basic theory of GIS, but mainly they will acquire practical skills of working with GIS. The subject will focus on open-source software (QGIS) and open data available. At the end of the subject students will complete short project on their own. After completing the course students should be able to understand basics of GIS, to manage, analyse and visualise data in QGIS.
Economics of Development
The course provides an analysis of development issues from an economic perspective, including the role of national and international policies. Though the course is relatively non-technical, it requires regular reading of literature before the classes. The course covers five broad areas: concept and measurement of development, poverty and inequality, education and health, economic structure and trade, and development finance.
Future Global Challenges
Introduction – the history of human colonisation of the Earth
Human population trends from the 19th century
Food production and its limits
The Big Regulator – epidemies and humankind
Water – the key determinant of agricultural production
Drought, soil degradation and desertification
Limits of other sources – metals, uranium…
2030: the Perfect Storm?
Global Environmental Issues 2
Global issues – definition. Evolution of the life on the Earth. Basic facts about biosphere. Changes and catastrophes in the history caused by natural factors. Definition of human´s environment during 40 thousand years of cultural evolution. Impact and meaning of agriculture revolution and industrial revolution. Characteristic of chosen global issues: violence, population trends, nutrition problems, health status of inhabitants, poverty. Definitions of environmental crises: endanger of biodiversity, maintenance of forests, soil and water, spread of deserts, pollution of atmosphere and disturbance of climate. Other global issues: energy, resources, waste, human residence, using of oceans, seas and Antarctica, institutional system. International activities leading to change of the current state. Vision of global Marshall plan.
The course focuses on the analysis of composite development indicators. The first part of the course discusses the classification and construction of indicators. Selected development indicators are used as case studies. In the second part students work in groups to research a selected indicator. The course assumes basic knowledge of development economics and quantitative methods.
Economic theories were evolving from ancient times, even though we are speaking of economics as stand alone discipline from times of Adam Smith and his fellows of Classical Political Economics. Today economics and academic sphere is strongly influenced by so-called orthodox economics, and very little space is left for alternatives. This course is responding to this need of broader understanding of economic theory. First part of the semester is dedicated to past evolvement of economic theory, while second part of the semester focuses on recent schools of economic thought, and introduces main alternatives.
Core of this course is built around microeconomic essentials. Thus market allocations of goods and services that are Pareto optimal and welfare maximizing. Unfortunately, markets are far from perfect in reality and produce inefficiencies. Considering environment, these inefficiencies are related mostly to the externalities and imperfect property regimes like open-access regimes. These market failures need to be corrected. This ambitious aim could be achieved by adopting innovative economic techniques. Which include for example valuation of non-market goods, internalization of externalities, efficient and fair allocation of natural resources and innovative management techniques.
Environmental ethics is the study of ethics in the context of the natural world. Or, in the other words, environmental ethics is that part of ethics which deals with human choices about the environment. Both on individual and societal levels. This discourse includes the study of human beings, the study of nature, and the study of relationships between the two. In this course we deal with these crucial questions: What are human beings? What is nature? How are humans related to nature? How should humans be related to nature? Answering these questions requires answering other questions: Are humans separate from and superior to nature or are humans part of nature? Should natural resources be used for economic value? Or should some wilderness be left undisturbed? Answers will be contextualized in the main streams of environmental ethics: anthropocentrism, biocentrism, zoocentrism, teocentrism, ekocentrism, social ecology, ekofeminism and deep ecology.
The course aims to critically analyze various development theories. These include: classical and neoliberal theories, structuralism, neomarxism and socialist theories. Part of the course is dedicated to the influence of colonialism on contemporary word. Furthermore the course focuses on social and cultural dimensions of development as well as new development concepts such as grassroot development and gender.
Negotiation, Facilitation, Mediation
The course is designed to provide the theoretical and practical grounding for critical exploration and understanding of conflict settings as well as alternative dispute resolution techniques. It shall enable students to explore how the specific tools and techniques could enrich the skills of the development policymaker or practitioner through fostering their capacities in options´ generation, dilemma solving, questions´ formulation, listening and enhancing their analytical skills etc. It also examines the consensual methods to promote understanding and explores the variety of strategies to foster and support the constructive dialogue, both in local and international context.
The course analysis basic principles of sustainable development. Main topics included are the following: history, definition and principles of sustainable development, human values compatible with sustainable development, economic instruments of sustainable development, technologies for sustainable development, political and institutional aspects of sustainable development, sectoral aspects of sustainable development, indicators of sustainable development, strategies for sustainable development, and actors of sustainable development.
Wide variety of courses are offered by the Department, the Faculty of Science and Palacky University in Olomouc. List of all courses taught in English at Palacky University can be found at a respective webpage of the university website.
The offer of optional courses may change in any given year.